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There ain’t no bliss in laundry!

Sure, its great to have clean underwear. After all, I wouldn’t want to explain to my grandmother that the doctors in the emergency room saw my dirty underwear. And, yes–there is something wonderful about slipping between freshly laundered sheets or wrapping yourself in a warm fluffy towel straight from the dryer. But lets face it, there isn’t enough magic in the world to eradicate the never- ending monotony of laundry.

…plenty of soft water is a very important item. When this cannot be had, ley or soda can be put in hard water, to soften it; care being used not to put in so much, as to injure the hands and clothes. Two wash-forms are needed; one for the two tubs in which to put the suds, and the other for blueing and starching-tubs. Four tubs, of different sizes, are necessary; also, a large wooden dipper, (as metal is apt to rust;) two or three pails; a grooved wash-board; a clothes-line, (sea-grass, or horse-hair is best;) a wash-stick to move clothes, when boiling, and a wooden fork to take them out. Soap-dishes, made to hook on the tubs, save soap and time.

Provide, also, a clothes-bag, in which to boil clothes; an indigo-bag, of double flannel; a starch-strainer, of coarse linen; a bottle of ox-gall for calicoes; a supply of starch, neither sour nor musty; several dozens of clothes-pins, which are cleft sticks, used to fasten clothes on the line; a bottle of dissolved gum Arabic; two clothes-baskets; and a brass or copper kettle, for boiling clothes, as iron is apt to rust…

…Scald all table linen and articles which have coffee, fruit, or other stains which would be “set” by hot suds, by pouring over them hot water from the tea-kettle and allowing them to stand until cool. Have the water in the tub as warm as the hand will bear, but not too hot. (Dirty clothes should never be put into very hot clear water, as it “sets ” the dirt. Hot soap-suds, however, has the opposite effect, the water expanding the fiber of the fabric, while the alkali of the soap softens and removes the dirt.) Wash first one boiler full, taking the cleanest and finest through two suds, then place in a boiler of cold water, with soap enough to make a good suds…

(source)

Holy fuck on a sick!  I’m glad I’m not signed up for that… Certainly laundry has gotten easier over the years and is no longer the backbreaking work of yesteryear (speaking as a re-enactor, corsets=surprisingly good back support), but that doesn’t make it suck any less.  I may not like doing the dishes, vacuuming, dusting, polishing the silver (thank goodness we don’t have any), scrubbing the toilet, taking the trash out, mopping the floor, steam-cleaning the carpet (at least I don’t have to beat it with a stick), or cleaning the countertops…but all of those chores are either a five minute thing, or happen on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  Laundry on the other hand is every day, on going, and never ending.  Drudgery.  And unless you are a nudist, laundry is as certain as death or taxes.

I have tried over the years to think of laundry in another light.  Mindful folding, elemental washing, personal protections for the kids clothing, exercises in thankfulness for having clothing, etc…but it never works.  There is just no bliss in doing laundry.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.   I’m pretty sure that everyone has *that one chore* that they would trade their left kidney to never have to do again (okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get the sentiment I’m sure).  Maybe its not laundry…maybe its the dishes, cooking, cleaning the bathroom, or scouring the sink.  But I think everyone has *that one chore*, and I think the attitude we have towards it probably says just as much about us as those things we like.

I started thinking about this a few days ago…which lead to other (blasphemous) thoughts.  Emily Matchar, of the New Domesticity blog*  came and interviewed me as part of her book research on modern domesticity–how its changed between our time and our mothers, what domestic stuff I do (paraphrased, she asked the question much more eloquently), and a boatload of other introspective questions that I totally rambled nonsensically on.  Mainly due to the fact that before she showed up the kids were going crazy, I couldn’t find my car keys and thought they were in the hubby’s car (with him at work), so we were late getting ready for school, Chickadee threw a fit about not wanting to go to school (another story for another day), and because of the fit-keys-general lateness, I ended up doing the interview with two kids home instead of one and by the time she got here, Sharkbait decided to go streaking, Chickadee had to give her the tour of  Hamster City and introduce her to George and Blur, and I’m pretty surprised that the roof didn’t fall in….maybe we should have met at the park.

But…it got me thinking.

It got me thinking about a laundry list of things, and I’ve joked on the forum that I think I’m going through an early mid-life crisis–there is a mental plan to discuss some of them as I (attempt to) sort through them in my head. When I started this blog, it was mainly just a place to put my own cobbled together herbal information (something else to start working on again–but I think that box is still in storage), and to talk about witchy stuff and pagan parenting information (since there wasn’t much out there at the time).  Its still pretty much the same, with some other things added and some tangents…but its not very often about me…at least not past some sort of Witchy Homemaker facade.  And I think that’s pretty shitty.  It was also not intentional, but it is what it is.

I write this blog with the idea that other people are reading it, and with some reflection, I think that means that just as often I’m dressing up and cleaning house for company than not.  One of the things that we discussed was how much *image* goes into homemaking blogs (and while mine isn’t specifically on homemaking, it does cover quite a few topics on the subject)–that (some) bloggers are commodifying some image of themselves in domestic bliss that none of us can ever hope to achieve, and the rest of us end up perpetuating the cycle to prove (to ourselves, to others?) that we are “doing it right” (I really recommend reading the post she references in the above link).  I’ve come to the conclusion that I am just as much guilty of this as I think quite a few other people are, and that’s a damn shame.

That is about to change, starting now (don’t worry, I won’t be making it some depressing downer, just a bit more realistic):

The honest to gods’ truth is that I hate laundry.  Sometimes, I let the dishes stack up just to tell the hubby to do them.  When I can’t remember where the hell the dust pan is, I sweep the pile into the kitchen closet.  Most foraging trips with the kids end with a fight or an injury, me having to carry one of them (and sometimes both) back to the car, and two days of pain killers for my back.   I bribe Sharkbait to stay sitting down and listening at library story time with raisins.  No one put the leftovers away last night, and now I’m tossing out the remnants of dinner, which could have made a couple meals for the week.  I haven’t decided if saving the rice is disgusting or not.  And my big moment of honesty (which is going to end up its own post in the next week or so) for before-7am on sleep-in Sunday: I think that I resent the personal sacrifice, loss of ambition and de-valuing of myself by being a stay at home mom almost as much as I love my kids enough to do it.**

*its an awesome blog, I suggest reading it and then actually thinking about the points she raises–I had skimped on that part, or we might have come to this conversation sooner

**to be continued

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